Does Linden Research Patent Point to the Future of Second Life?
Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by a total of 3,744,619 people from around the globe.
There are a number of real world businesses that have set up virtual world versions of their businesses in Second Life, and there are marketers who offer services helping businesses develop a presence in Second Life.
While searching through internet related patent applications this weekend, I came across a couple of recent patent applications involving virtual worlds, and they made me wonder what patent filings the developers of Second Life had made. The company behind Second Life is Linden Lab.
One patent application assigned to them describes some technical aspects of splitting up a similation amongst different servers, but really doesn’t provide a lot of insight into the workings of Second Life: Distributed simulation. The listed inventors include founder and CEO Philip E. Rosedale, Chief Technology Officer Cory R. Ondrejka, and Andrew L. Meadows.
I also found a granted patent, which I find really interesting. It was originally filed in 2000, but wasn’t granted until October, 2006:
Input and feedback system
Invented by Philip Rosedale
Assigned to Linden Research, Inc.
US Patent 7,117,136
Granted October 3, 2006
Filed: August 18, 2000
An input and feedback system for use with simulator devices immobilizes a portion of the user’s body using a securement device which holds the immobilized portion in a fixed position.
Pressure sensors are disposed upon the securement device to detect the force resulting from any attempted motion of the immobilized body part. Signals describing these forces are sent to a processing unit which applies this information to a simulated environment and provides sensory feedback to the user of the this simulated environment.
Feedback is provided via vibrating elements which provide a sensation to the user corresponding to the motion of the user’s muscles which occur in the simulated environment. Feedback is also provided via a screen which is disposed in front of the head of the user.
Such immobilizing devices may be used to allow input and feedback based on the motion of various parts of the user’s body, such as the head, arms, legs, and torso.
Will the simulations of Second Life someday evolve into something even more realistic? Hard to tell.